Red Tailed Hawk

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Buteo jamaicensis

Habitat: Red tailed hawks live throughout North America, especially in the US. They may travel north at times during the summer for breeding season.

Diet: Red tailed hawks are a predatory species and hunt mice, rats, rabbits, snakes, and other small animals.

Size: 1.5 to 2.2 feet tall / 3.6 to 4.7 foot wingspan

Weight: 1.5 to 3.5 pounds

Lifespan: 20 to 28 years

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Least Concern – a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to be pervasive, abundant, and thriving.

Our Red Tailed Hawk:

Tabi (Female) – Estimated Date of Birth April 2018

About Red Tailed Hawks:

Named for the characteristic rusty, red color of their tail feathers, Red Tailed Hawks are one of the most common birds of prey in North America. Like most raptors, while Red Tailed Hawks look majestic and beautiful, don’t let that fool you. They are also formidable hunters! Their eyes are 8 times sharper than a human’s which allows them to spot even the tiniest mouse on the ground from 100 feet in the air. After this prey is spotted, a Red Tailed Hawk is capable of diving at a whopping 120mph to snatch them with their 1.33 inch talons. In fact, Red Tailed Hawks are so effective at hunting that they are able to catch a meal at least 2 to 3 times a day!

Did You Know?!

  • Red tailed hawks are diurnal, meaning that they are most active during the morning and daytime and sleep most of the night. Their eyes are especially adapted for daytime hunting.
  • Red tailed hawks don’t usually chase after their prey. They prefer to sit on telephone poles or in tree-tops, waiting to swoop down on unsuspecting prey.
  • Red tailed hawks have a distinctive, raspy call that directors usually use in movies featuring birds of prey. Most notably, they are often used to replace the call of the bald eagle which is generally considered to be far less majestic than how the American national bird should sound. 
  • Many red tailed hawks join other hawks to form migratory kettles, or groups, as they travel south for the winter or north for breeding season. Not all hawks decide to migrate, however, and many do stay for the duration of winter
  • Red-tailed hawks are commonly called “chicken hawks.”

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 8/3 for BREWFEST and will reopen with normal hours on 8/4!